Chapter 12: The Split

Zakana had never seen a Pokémon . . . what was the word Yumin had used . . . evolve. He watched Bambi’s Eevee pant and whine as it pushed its back against the tree further. This Pokémon was in pain, Zakana knew. The hound Pokémon continued to lick Eevee as the boy dabbed it with the rag.

“Makua!” Bambi said, naming the boy. “Isn’t there anything we can do?”

“A natural birth is better. Unless anyone has any beezleberries?”

Was it a trick of the eyes? Zakana wondered. Was this how a Pokémon evolved? Eevee’s brown and beige fur changed, began to shimmer underneath a heavy moonlight. Yellow bands materialized on its ears as if by magic. Another band wrapped around its tail. Everything—from this pregnant mother’s ears to its feet, began to grow in size. Wavering eyes turned inside its head and the shade of its coat darkened, matched the night around them.

“Here comes the baby!” Makua said, adjusting himself on the ground, his fingers long and skeletal.

Bambi stepped forward as Eevee let out a blood-lashed cry. Zakana hoped it would be over soon. He saw the tiny thing slip out of its mother, a whitish-brown sac of ooze.

“Oh!” Bambi cried, taking the baby in her hands. “It’s so tiny!”

It was difficult to make out any features, but Zakana imagined it was the same thing as its mother. That made the most sense. When he pointed his Pokedex at the newborn, Oodi confirmed it as Eevee. Zakana shifted the sensor to the evolving Pokémon. He wondered what new thing it was changing into. Oodi reported the same thing. It was still an Eevee.

“It’s fighting the evolution!” Farore said.

“That’s not good,” Lyres piped in. “Bambi, you have to help coax it into its evolved form!”

The bands of yellow began to fade and the mother Eevee became a muted shade of beige again.

Zakana wondered why making it evolve was the best thing, but he kept quiet. He knew he was the only one there who didn’t know that answer. He could ask later.

“Twins!” Makua said. “Get ready!”

“She’s having a second one?” Isaque asked. “A second baby?”

“Yes, and a third,” Makua replied, his hands soaked in blood. “I mean there are twins coming out now, in the same sac—actual twins in the same litter!”

Isaque cocked his head to the side to see the next babies be pushed out. The mother Eevee squealed in distress. Zakana watched this boy—Isaque—thought back to his words. Did he really know him? How did he know him and what was he going on about? Zakana wracked his brain and tried to remember.

“This sac hasn’t broken!” Makua took the twins and turned to Bambi’s Hower. “Hower, get them out of here!”

Zakana turned away and heard the savage gnarling as Hower ate away the sac. Tiny pips of fear sounded from the three baby Eevee. Yumin grabbed one from Makua’s hand and cuddled it close to him. Zakana noticed he was the next closest and took the other twin. The lump of flesh in his hands felt cold and slimy, and he realized blood stained his t-shirt at the stomach. It mewed and cooed, tried desperately to open its eyes.

Eevee continued to yell and at that moment, Zakana realized how much noise this tiny Pokémon was making. It was enough noise to draw every creature in the forest to them. While most things remained quiet and still at this hour, mother Eevee was the opposite, shrill and writhing as its coat continued to change from light to dark colors. Zakana heard things—birds hoot and howl from above. A snap of branches sounded nearby. This birth was not welcome.

“Holy Miltank!” Makua said. “Another one! That’s four babies! I’ve never seen a birth like this!”

Zakana wondered how many births this young boy had seen as Farore wrapped the next baby into her cradle of wrists and arms.

“Five!” Lyres stepped up and took the next Eevee as everyone else was preoccupied.

“Another!” Makua said, coaxing it out of the mother.

“Kappa!” Bambi said, kneeling beside her Eevee. “You have to go through with your evolution! Don’t fight it Kappa!”


Where had his baby cousin gotten the name, Zakana wondered. He would ask her when he got the chance. He would be able to ask her so many things.

“Kappa, can you hear me?” Bambi kneeled over her Eevee in desperation. “You have to go through with your evolution. I know its painful, and I know you probably want to be the same thing as your babies, but you have to change now! You can’t fight it!”

She had changed, Zakana knew, just in the time that he watched her now. Bambi was stronger, fiercer, and more brave than he was. He held the baby thing in his good arm. It was kind of cute, but it would probably change soon and become big and ugly, like most Pokémon.

“Here it is,” Makua said, handing the next baby to Isaque.

Kappa panted. And whined. And screamed. And Zakana thought the whole forest would be upon them soon. In fact, it was eerily quiet and as he looked across the clearing at the other faces, he knew something else had changed.

“How many babies are there?”

“There she goes! She’s pushing out another!”

Again, Kappa’s coat fluctuated, became a shimmer of gold and black, fought against the pull of beige.

“Fight it, Kappa!” Bambi said.

Still, Makua slaved over Kappa’s birth space. “This should be the last!” It slipped out with ease.

Finally, at Zakana’s feet, Kappa’s coat went solid black, instantly, like a button had been pushed, and gold bands appeared at its ears, legs, forehead and tail. Hower continued to lick Kappa to cool her. Tiny yips of fear and confusion sounded among the group, as each member held an Eevee. Everyone except Bambi, whose Eevee now lay at the base of the tree, panting still, through with the birth and the evolution but clearly in pain. And now, it was no longer an Eevee at all.

Zakana flicked open Oodi again, pointed it at the new form.

“Umbreon. The moonlight Pokémon. Umbreon evolves from Eevee as a result of exposure to the moon’s waves. This Pokémon can be dark and secretive, and waits silently in the darkness for its opponent to make a move. The rings on its body glow when it leaps to attack.”

Bambi kneeled closer to her new Umbreon and softly pressed her body to it. “Oh, Kappa, I was so worried about you!”

“Hush!” Lyres said.

Again, Zakana felt the silent whisperings around him. He noted the way this Umbreon’s rings glowed under the moonlight. Everyone seemed to be watching it, waiting for some reaction. When it opened its eyes, blood red stared back.

“We need to move,” Lyres urged. “It’s the worst place to be at this hour.”

And then, Zakana felt the presence again.

Something lurked beyond the trees. His training told him there was another presence.

All at once everything tightened. The group hamstringed together. Something emerged from the shadows. Quickly, deliberately, it faced them, raised an arm and threw something.

By instinct, or something else entirely that Zakana could not place, he stepped in front of the object.

Instead of hitting Kappa or Bambi, for where it was headed, it nailed Zakana, just above the knee.

The pain was immediate, and excruciating.


A ball had struck him and as he studied it on the forest floor, he thought he recognized it as one of the balls back in Bambi’s Academy. He winced in pain, felt the true weight of the thing.

“Who’s there? Show yourself!” Yumin jumped to the ready, and Bambi scooped up her Kappa in her arms.

“It’s a clamp ball!” Lyres cried.

Another figure emerged. Zakana couldn’t see them, but he sensed them—two of them, dressed in black, blending into the vast darkness behind them. They were silent.

“Hower, give em a flame—”

Another ball came, this time flew at Isaque and the newborn in his arms. There was a shrill cry, the ball wrapped the Pokémon up in its spectrum of light, and returned to the thrower.

“Return your Pokémon!” Yumin commanded.

Someone darted away.

Bambi shouted at Makua and then . . .

In some incomprehensible moment of confusion nothing made sense. Up was down, and light was dark, and as Zakana tried to find someone else, he realized that no one remained. Everyone had gone, run off in directions, on paths that he could not see. He too departed, the tiny ball of ooze still in the cradle of his good arm.

“Bambi!” He called.

He needed to find her. There was no other option. He couldn’t lose her again.

Zakana did the one thing he knew he could do right now and that was run. He ran past trees, moonlit clearings, away from his pursuers. He ran for some amount of time, sweat from the exercise, grew cold from the chill of the night. He ran until he couldn’t anymore, one because the pain above his knee set in again and two because the pain in his arm pierced his exterior. He tripped, or collapsed, or both, and fell to the forest floor, the tiny Eevee pressed against him.

Except for his now heavy breathing, there was silence.

He wondered how close his pursuers were. Had they been watching their group, just like that? Were they waiting for their chance to strike?

The Eevee cried.


Bambi stepped out from behind a tree, her own Kappa in her arms. “Did you protect the little one?”

The hound Pokémon, Hower stalked up behind her, and Farore too. Another baby lay in her arms. Bambi looked distraught.

Zakana rolled to his back. He grunted.

“Where’s Yumin?” Bambi knelt beside her cousin, released her Kappa onto its offspring. Kappa picked up the newborn by the scruff of its neck, smelled it, seemed to be deciding about something. It laid it on the forest floor and walked around it in circles.

“Farore,” Bambi said. “Do we keep moving or try to find the others?”

“We’re not going to find anyone in this darkness. Its best to get somewhere safe, sleep for the night, and start the search in the morning.”

“Who were they?” Bambi asked.

Zakana heard the fear in her voice and he felt it too. Those figures—they had to be connected to whatever was happening. Zakana had seen the type of ball before. He knew what it could do. It brought such power, that clamp ball. And when he thought about something that heavy striking the tiny baby he had just held, he cringed. It was enough to kill.

“That ball,” Bambi said. “It caught my baby Eevee . . .” And as Bambi began to realize the gravity of what had happened, she cried. She cried for losing her newborn baby to a clamp ball, cried that her older brother, her protector was not with them. She cried that her friend Makua was not there either.

“How many more did they catch? How can they do such things?” Bambi paused, breathed in, then let out a cry of frustration. “They can’t catch other people’s Pokémon!”

“We’ll get your Eevee back.” Farore paused and then looked to Zakana. “You’re Bambi’s cousin?”

Zakana looked up at the girl staring down at him. She was somewhere on the verge of her teenage years and womanhood and he knew, their best chance of surviving out here.

He sat up. “Yeah, I’m Zakana.”

Again, there was noise from the great beyond. Farore snapped to attention.

“Who’s there? You better show yourself this time!”

“Wait,” said the voice. “I’m Isaque, from before.”

The boy came from some unseen place. “Don’t be alarmed. It’s okay.”

“Is it?” Farore jumped up, seemed to be blocking Isaque from reaching Bambi or Zakana. At this, Zakana stood up.

“Isaque, is it?” Farore continued. “Is it okay that we were just attacked in this forest, our own Pokémon ripped from our very hands?”

“No, that’s not okay. I tried to protect it.”

And Zakana remembered that the Eevee had been in his arms.

“Who are you, anyway? Why are you in this forest?”

Isaque tried to speak but Farore shut him down.

“I know this place well and I don’t know who those guys were. Do you? Someone led them to us!”

And now, after huffing and puffing about, Farore seemed to be waiting for an answer. This was the time for Isaque to speak, and no other time. Zakana imagined that window to be shrinking with every second.

“I was helping my friend, Lyres, look for Bambi actually.”

“What the hell were you looking for Bambi for?”

“I mean—we were helping Yumin and Zach look for Bambi. They needed to find her and—we had a tracker so we helped.” Isaque paused, scanned the area. “Look . . . I don’t know what just happened, but I’ve lost my friend too. It looks like you don’t have all your members either.”

Farore turned to face Zakana. “Is all that true? You and Yumin needed his help and he helped?”

“Why did you call him Zach?” Bambi interjected. “That’s not his name.”

“Oh, right. I mean—”

“It’s what Yumin was calling me,” Zakana said. “I’ll explain later.”

“Right. I know his real name is Zakana. In fact, I—” But Isaque stopped himself.

Zakana knew the thought process. He knew that Isaque thought about how they knew each other, though he seemed to know. Did Zakana know him? Questions swirled in his head, and he fought the visions, the episodes, for Bambi’s sake.

In his head, all he could hear was: do you know him?

Though when he really listened, Farore’s question was slightly different. “Well, Zakana? Can you—can you vouch for him?”

The possible situations stood before him, one with Bambi and Yumin, and another with a girl he hardly knew, but who could, and had protected Bambi, and another boy, whom Zakana truly didn’t know, at least not that he thought, but that seemed to know him. And everything panned out, played out in quickly winding puzzles inside his head within the span of seconds.

Somehow he knew he not only needed Bambi, but the others too, in different but complex ways.

Zakana nodded. “He’s okay.”


Yumin found himself firing a similar round of questions. He held Lyres against the tree, pinned his shoulder so that he couldn’t move.

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing in this forest.”

Lyres seethed visibly. “Get your hands off me, Yumin. Before I make you regret it.”

Neither of them budged, and Yumin knew, based on their history, that neither of them would.

The young boy said something behind them, but Yumin ignored it.

“Are you working with them?”

“Are you?” Lyres fired back.

Pinned there, Lyres seemed to be gaining energy. A fire lit behind his eyes. “You have till the count of three to let me go, or I challenge you to a 6 on 6 Pokémon battle, and I unleash my true fury.”

Yumin considered the implications of this. He looked back at the boy, whose name he had forgotten again. He could help Yumin because he was Bambi’s friend, but what Pokémon did he have? He was just starting out and he likely didn’t have anything that could take down Lyres. In fact, Yumin didn’t either.

“One . . .”

And he realized, he didn’t really have any grounds to be holding Lyres up against a tree, except that he was a lying, cheating weasel, that probably brought along the thieves.

“Two . . .”

He fought his better instincts and released Lyres.

“Three,” Lyres breathed. He smoothed out his clothes, shot Yumin a dark look. “Don’t ever do that again, old rival, or I’ll use more than just Pokémon against you.”

Makua asked something else but Yumin did not hear it.

“Let’s just focus on finding the others,” he said.

And the three of them continued into the perpetual darkness.